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Simulations Continue to Engage

When do you think that was said? If we told you it was 2008, would you believe us?

The simulation that attracted that quote over 10 years ago – our ReAction reinsurance simulation - is as relevant today as it was then and the demand for it is growing.

Right now, there is burgeoning interest in the impact simulations and serious games can have on embedding learning. But, while the technology to deliver these has evolved, the underlying principles of engagement and immersion remain unchanged.

Take a look at this video of Professor Reg Revans, the Godfather of experiential / action learning, explaining its philosophy, origins and applications in 1984.

This may be over 30 years old, but the principles he discusses form the basis of every game that tops the App Store charts today.

Over the past year these simulations have seen unprecedented levels of activity, leading to the creation of Unicorn Simulations as its’ own company.

We have run ReAction, Morotania, our general insurance simulation, and our ICARUS business simulation for clients in the UK, while in the same period, our simulations have been run in Sweden, Germany, Manila, Taipei, Sydney, London, New York and Philadelphia too. Meanwhile, global MBA students have experienced the new App version of ICARUS.

Thanks to smartphones and tablets, we all now play games and expect much higher levels of interactivity than ever before. Not surprisingly, industry is grasping the idea the engagement that ‘mobile’ activities achieve can be translated to and harnessed for learning. Simulations are just an extension of this.

Almost 12 months ago, our ICARUS simulation, developed with LAS in partnership with UCL as part of their MSc in Professional Accountancy, won the Learning Technologies Award for ‘Best use of simulations or virtual environments for learning’. This autumn, ICARUS is being run for the latest cohort of 800 students in 130 teams globally.

Why? Because the principles of experiential learning haven’t changed. People are just more aware of it than ever thanks to the fact we are permanently connected to the most powerful learning facilitation tool we could ever wish for – smartphones.But the airport simulation underpinning that award-winning project is based on a model originally built as long ago 1996. Likewise ReAction dates back to 1998. The quality of the user interface has improved over time, but the basic principles are the same.

As kids we learn by doing; through play, through experimentation, from the journey of discovery that our imaginations take us on. We learn and we remember.

Formal education tends to knocks that playfulness out of us so by the time we get into adulthood learning has become about sitting in a classroom listening to someone talk at us, “death by PowerPoint”, or doing a linear click-next-screen piece of eLearning.

It becomes formulaic but conversely less engaging and less impactful.

Simulations are simply adults playing but in a serious way. Is it any wonder they are making a comeback when even the most innocent mistake or oversight can be so costly both financially and in terms of reputation?

[Original post: 6.11.18 at

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